By Colin Marston ’13
Between Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and elections, November is a month known for honored soldiers, poultry and politicians.
A more obscure presence on the monthly circuit is the event known as Movember.
A combination of “mo”, slang for moustache, and November, its central tenet is to raise awareness of men’s health issues through the publicity of facial hair.
The organization was started casually in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia to revive the perceived decline of moustaches, and start conversations on a vitally pressing issue, prostate cancer.
From these humble beginnings sprang forth an untapped amount of participation: in their 2009 contest, 255,755 participated in the event, and more than a million donors raised $42 million for various cancer-fighting organizations, like the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
This global outreach program reached our campus on the backs of the one teacher suave enough to meander through the underground culture of moustache activism.
“By November 30th, I will have the darkest slug on my upper lip, and succeed as far as my hormones permit,” said Mr. John Damaso ’97.
He personally joined the movement last year, and was inspired to organize a school-wide effort this year.
In late September he sent a faculty wide e-mail inviting those interested in participating to join him on his quest for a more manly alternative to pink ribbons.
Twelve faculty members initially signed up, including Mr. Brad Shear, Mr. Ryan Hubbell and Mr. John Burns,with two women identifying as “Mo Sista’s” showing solidarity.
He shares his excitement about the potential ripple effect of proliferating pencil ’staches spreading far and wide.
“First it would be faculty, and then friends at Brophy, and then possibly alumni, and perhaps forming into a full-front campaign,” Mr. Damaso said.
Through the event and unfurling follicles, Mr. Damaso hopes to start conversations on pressing men’s health issues.
Half of all men are diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life, with one in six contracting prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most diagonsed cancer among men.
“This event will present a good platform to discuss health issues that aren’t always talked about openly, and provides a nice transition from October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to November for prostate cancer,” Mr. Damaso said.
The barring of student participation has been held in contempt by many, but the future has hope.
Mr. Damaso sees a future of half-matured teenagers proudly flaunting their unique upper lip updo.
“Long-term the only way Movember would remain a success is turning it into a community wide effort. And that means student-wide participation,” Mr. Damaso said.
Mr. Damaso brainstormed guidelines for the event suggesting a minimum donation needed to sanction moustaches, but that future discussions should be held with administration.
For more information on the event, visit us.movember.com.